If insurance companies or parties involved are unable to agree on terms following an accident, the case is taken to court. If it’s your first time in
If insurance companies or parties involved are unable to agree on terms following an accident, the case is taken to court. If it’s your first time in court, you will need to prepare yourself for the court case. Besides needing the advice and help of a personal injury lawyer, there are important points you should take note of.
What You Should Know About the Process
Here are things you should keep in mind about the litigation process:
Your Case May Take a Long Time to Resolve
Personal litigation cases take time to resolve. At some point, it is bound to get frustrating for you, but if you want to get your claim, you have to prepare yourself and put up with the frustration. If your case is a minor case, it might get resolved quickly. Medium and big cases sometimes take years and several court adjournments to settle. There is very little your lawyer can do about it.
The Litigation Process Can Be Confusing
The litigation process itself is confusing, especially to first-timers. A layman may find terms and processes such as pleadings, hearings, motions, continuances, negotiations, adjournments and deadlines confusing.
You have the right to understand the process and how your case is being handled. Ask questions when you are confused. Talk to your lawyer and have him explain everything you need to know. If your lawyer is consistently unable to explain the processes satisfactorily, consider getting a new lawyer.
You will Lose Some of Your Privacy
Before your lawyer begins the litigation process, you need to know that the process will eat at your privacy.
The court may demand you present information previously deemed private and defence attorneys will seek detailed information from you in a bit to find incriminating evidence against you.
Your medical records and tax returns will be demanded. Your employment records from every employer you had maybe demanded too. While it is invasive and annoying, most courts grant defence attorneys access to these records. Consult your lawyer to know which information you are required to provide. You only have to be prepared to provide information you deemed private prior to the start of the litigation process.
Testimony Can Be Confrontational
You need to be aware that the defence attorney will be seeking to unnerve you during the court sessions. If the defence attorney gets you to lose your cool, your chance of winning the case decreases. Prepare for any likely question that may unsettle you. Do your best to not lose your cool through the cross-examination process. Know the weak points of your case and be prepared to calmly explain your stand without getting rattled. Practice with your lawyer before court cases if you can.
What You Should Do While Preparing for the Case
Here are important things to do when preparing for the court case:
- Practice with your lawyer
When involved in an accident, the first step you should take to secure your interest is to hire a personal injury lawyer. It is the duty of your lawyer to prepare you for the case, tell you everything you need to know and represent you during the entire litigation process. Practice with your lawyer before the court date. Ask questions if unsure about anything, and have your lawyer drill you properly so you know what to expect.
- Ready your documents
To win your personal injury case, there are necessary documents you will be required to tender before the court. You must ready these documents, with the help of your lawyer, before the date.
These documents include financial documents, statements, character references, police reports, documentary evidence, and medical certificates.
- Include all supporting documents. Documents such as bills and receipts are necessary to support your claims. Keep those in a separate file and ensure they are secure. Check with your lawyer to see if these documents need to be stamped before submission.
- Photocopy the documents. You should keep three copies of every document. Besides forwarding these to the defence attorney and insurers, you may be asked to provide an extra copy when in the law court. You also need the duplicates to avoid loss of important information.
- Arrange the files in a folder. Keep your folder arranged for easy handling. The method of arrangement should enable you to easily provide any document when requested. You can elect to arrange them alphabetically or chronologically. While practising with your lawyer, find out the best method of arrangement that worked for you and maintain it.
- Review the necessary papers. Go through all documents regularly to ensure you are updated about the court case. This helps to prepare you against unexpected questions in the courtroom. Make sure your folder set up allows you find documents quickly too.
- Learn basic courtroom etiquette
The impression you make in the courtroom counts too. If the case is to be decided by a jury, it is in your best interest to impress them. You need to know all the rules, how to behave, and how to address everyone in the court. Here are some basic rules to keep in mind.
- Respect the judge. The judge represents the authority in the court. You are meant to stand when the judge enters the courtroom as a sign of respect, and only sit when you are asked to do so. You also must reply with the utmost respect when being addressed by the judge.
- Dress smartly and professionally. The way you dress is the way you are addressed. This applies in a lawsuit hearing. The court and jury might perceive you through your outfit and gait. Check the website or ask your lawyer for the court’s dress code before the date and get your outfit ready. Dress comfortably, keep the clothes fit and tidy, and have your shirt tucked in properly.
- Be on your best behaviour. You must remain courteous at all times when addressing the court and courtroom staff. Keep your voice low, maintain your cool, avoid derogatory words, and keep your facial expressions professional. When asked a question, maintain eye contact and avoid rude or humorous comments as they may draw different interpretations.
Keep all documents ready. Keep to the proper courtroom etiquette. Practice with your lawyer. Maintain your cool while in the court.
Prepare adequately for your court date. You stand a better chance of winning the case if you are properly prepared. Remember to seek proper guidance and consult your lawyer when confused.